Autistic movie enthusist, (the bio needs to be 60 characters long, so this is just filling up space)
Melissa McCarthy has become one of the biggest comedians of the past couple of years; after getting a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the 2011 comedy Bridesmaids, her career took off starring in more comedies such as The Heat (2013), Spy (2015), and even garnering praise and a second Oscar nomination (this time as a leading actress) for her dramatic role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018). But for every good movie McCarthy is in, like Spy, you then see her in two more bad movies, such as Identity Thief (2013) or The Happytime Murders (2018).
The dips in quality in her career, can be largely attributed to her husband Ben Falcone, who isn’t entirely responsible for her career downfall, but has been in charge of some of her most egregious misfires. Falcone started directing in 2014 with the release of Tammy, starring his wife Melissa McCarthy. The film made 5x back its budget ($20 million), which then resulted in even MORE movies from McCarthy & Falcone.
Critical reception from these films ranged from meh (Life of the Party (2018) 38%, Superintelligence (2020) 31%), to horrible (The Boss (2016) 21%), I personally avoided these movies because 1) I couldn’t see them (I wasn’t old enough to see the R rated Tammy or The Boss, & Superintelligence is an HBO Max exclusive), and 2) I have better ways of spending my free time.
But not only is this new Falcone/McCarthy feature a Netflix exclusive, meaning I have no reason to not watch it, but this one is also a superhero movie (cause y’know we don’t have enough superhero related media at the moment). And they even have some talented cast members joining them, such as Octavia Spencer, and Jason Bateman; could this actually be a good movie? Time for my first Ben Falcone viewing experience!
Lydia Berman (Melissa McCarthy), & Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) were briefly best friends in high school, only for the two of them to split up due to their conflicting personalities. 31 years later (2024) however, when Lydia is accidentally injected with a serum that gives her superpowers, she and Emily will have to reunite as a superhero duo known as Thunder Force.
Within its first 20 minutes, I was under the impression that Thunder Force would be at best, average. By that point, the film mostly just covers backstory type stuff, and even once it does jump ahead to the present (or rather this films version of the present) the film mostly downplays the comedy, and more so focuses on the setup.
However, once McCarthy’s character is injected with the serum, the movie takes one of the biggest nosedives I’ve ever seen. Trying to review a bad comedy is usually one of the most difficult tasks that a critic will find themselves in, as it’s usually extremely difficult to explain why something isn’t funny, especially since what’s funny can be different depending on who you are.
That being said though Thunder Force’s attempts at humor could be best described as pathetically desperate. McCarthy’s character is an extremely irritating clutz, who goes through the movie bumbling about through idiotic pratfalls, and cringe worthy adlibbing. Octavia Spencer’s character is nowhere near as insufferable, but it’s extremely clear that she’s only doing this for a paycheck.
Spencer’s daughter Tracy (Taylor Mosby) is probably one of the more likeable aspects of the film, but isn’t really given a lot to do, outside of participate in a cringey recurring gag about Fortnite, and take part in an out of nowhere twist in the 3rd act. Bobby Cannavale as the villainous The King also isn’t terrible, but plays a very stock Trump-esque politician; a creative decision that seems very strange seeing as how he’s now out of office (though this movie was filmed in late-2019, so it’s possible that they assumed Trump would run for another 4 years).
The only actor who is able to bring any source of amusement to the feature is Jason Bateman as The Crab, a man who gained giant crab arms, from a radioactive accident. Nothing that he says is any funnier than what anyone else says in the picture (so, not funny), but Bateman is able to still bring his usual deadpan charisma to the role.
With bad comedies like this, all you can really do is just sit there and let the scenes play over you as you cringe erratically. Highlights (if you can call them that) include Octavia Spencer’s daughter not understanding who the character Urkle from Family Matters is, an impromptu dance sequence between McCarthy and Bateman upon their first encounter, and a running gag involving McCarthy eating raw chicken.
In between all of this scenes are potentially interesting ideas, such as how Spencer berates McCarthy for going on a date with Bateman’s character, due to him being a miscreant, a term for sociopaths who gained a superpowers due to cosmic rays that impacted the earth back in 1983. It almost seems like a racism allegory of sorts, but the movie is more focused on punishing the audience with its attempts at humor, then it is at trying to develop this theme, resulting in it feeling out of nowhere, and unnecessary. This whole film now that I think about it could be described as unnecessary.
Thunder Force is a completely unengaging, and irritating superhero comedy that is more or less just a vanity project for both Melissa McCarthy and her husband/director Ben Falcone. None of the supporting actors do anything to salvage the feature, and I couldn’t help but wish while I was watching this movie to have the superpower of flight, so that I could fly as far away from this movie as possible.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Matthew Hunter